As we begin the new year, we are grateful to God for giving us the strength and courage to overcome our past challenges and seek his grace to face future challenges with faithfulness and hope.
January 16, 2021
New Year Blessings.
As we begin the new year, we are grateful to God for giving us the strength and courage to overcome our past challenges and seek his grace to face future challenges with faithfulness and hope. Among the many challenges we have faced over the past year has been the radical transformation of the way catechism classes have been delivered to our young people. Catechists and students had to learn quickly to move away from the traditional classroom teaching-learning approach and adapt to online methods. It has not always been easy for catechists, students and parents. In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude to the parents for their support and cooperation in ensuring that their children continue to learn their faith even in these difficult times.
Catechetical New Year
Education in the faith of our young people is an integral part of the life and mission of the Church. As such, this task cannot be delayed or neglected under any circumstances. For 2021, catechism classes will soon begin in all dioceses. At this time, we do not know if the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic will improve in order to allow catechesis classes to take place in the classrooms. Otherwise, students will have to participate in online classes organized through applications such as Zoom, Google Meet and others. In this perspective, I wish to state some points to which, I hope, parents will be attentive with regard to the catechetical formation of their children.
Register your child for catechism
Most parishes have already begun making arrangements to register students for catechism for 2021. We urge parents who have not yet registered their children to do so. In some cases, registration will be via online means, for example Google Forms. Whichever method is used, please follow the directives given by the pastor and the catechetical team on this subject. If you are registering your child(ren) for the first time at the parish and are unsure how to proceed, please contact the parish office.
Your child’s participation in online classes
A number of issues need to be considered:
I. Participation in Sunday school lessons While we are aware that not all children will be able to participate in lessons delivered online for certain reasons, including lack or poor internet connectivity or lack of appropriate electronic gadgets, it is essential that students who have access to these facilities participate in the courses. Parents should give priority to the religious education of their children and ensure that their children attend catechism lessons on the day and at the time fixed by their catechist.
ii. Active participation
There are cases where students connect to the online lesson but turn off the video during the lesson. As a result, the catechist no longer knows if the student is really participating in the lesson. We seek the help of parents to ensure that their children actively participate in every lesson from start to finish.
iii. The attention and advice of parents
Children in the preschool years or lower primary grades need more parental attention and guidance during this time. The assistance of parents in collaborating, where possible, with the catechist in guiding and teaching the faith to their youngest children, whether through online courses or other means, will be greatly appreciated.
iv. Communication between parents and catechist
As mentioned earlier, there may be students who are unable to participate in online classes due to lack or poor internet connectivity, lack of electronic gadgets, or other possible reasons. In such cases, we encourage parents to communicate with the catechist and find other appropriate means by which their children can continue to receive appropriate and ongoing catechetical training.
I am aware that each parish will face unique challenges with regard to the organization and conduct of catechism. I am confident that the parish catechesis team, under the direction of the pastor, will work with parents to meet these challenges. In all cases, however, the parish priest will make the final decision.
Finally, I would like to remind parents that they are their children’s first catechists. I strongly urge parents to take this responsibility seriously so that with the help of the pastor and catechists, our young people can pursue their catechism and grow in maturity in their relationship with God and in the Catholic faith.
Bishop Julian Leow Beng Kim, DD
President Episcopal Malaysian Catechetical Commission